Pirates' Nova set to pitch against Marlins for first time (Apr 29, 2017)

BY AP • April 29, 2017

MIAMI -- The Pittsburgh Pirates will try to win their fourth series of the season -- and their second on the road -- on Saturday night when they play the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins have lost three games in a row.

Pittsburgh will start right-hander Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00 ERA), who has never faced the Marlins.

Nova, 30, is off to a great start this season. Aside from the impressive ERA, he has lasted at least six innings in each of his four starts. All four of his outings are considered "quality starts - at least six innings and no more than three runs allowed."

His most recent start was probably his best, beating the New York Yankees 2-1. He went seven innings and allowed four hits, one walk and one run, striking out seven.

Nova, who spent more than six years with the Yankees, credited his new teammates for allowing him to master his old ones.

But Yankees manager Joe Girardi, despite taking last week's loss to Nova, said his organization made the right decision to let him go.

"Nova had some good years and some tough years," Girardi told The Record. "We had to make a decision. Last year, at the time, we thought it was the right decision."

The Pirates are hoping the Yankees regret their choice to let Nova walk out the door.

Miami will likely send up some pretty good lefty hitters to face Nova, most notably gifted three-hole hitter Christian Yelich and speedy leadoff man Dee Gordon.

On the mound, the Marlins turn to Dan Straily, who made six appearances against the Pirates last year, including five starts, compiling a 2-2 record and a 3.38 ERA.

For his career, Straily is 28-22 with a 4.23 ERA in 90 appearances, including 80 starts. He has allowed 73 homers in those appearances.

Straily is coming off the best start of his career last week at the San Diego Padres.

Although he did not get a decision, Straily struck out a career-high 14 batters. He became just the third player in major league history to get at least 14 strikeouts in less than 100 pitches.

It was a surprisingly efficient effort despite his poor work in the bullpen warming up before the game.

"If you saw (my warmup tosses), you would wonder if I should even be starting," Straily told The Miami Herald. "They were all over the place.

"But in the game, there is a different type of intensity and focus. Your concentration is better, and you go out there and get the job done."

Straily's 14 strikeouts were the most by a Marlins pitcher since the late Jose Fernandez did it last year.

No one expects Straily to be the next Fernandez. But Straily has been solid, and he is starting to mesh with catcher J.T. Realmuto, which will be the next step for him.

"He had me guessing what I was going to throw," Straily said of the pitch selection Realmuto called for in the 14-strikeout game. "If he had me guessing, imagine what that did to the hitters."